I love words, so narrowing my focus down to just one for 2018 has been a challenge for me.

I started with “less.” Over the past few years, I’ve found myself craving a simpler life, lured toward the siren-song of minimalism, but grounded in the reality that I have a toddler (read: tornado) and also a child for whom ownership is a big deal, as they have known the reality of having quite literally nothing to call their own. Not to mention the generally negative connotation of the word . . . it just didn’t fit quite right.

My mind then rested on “notice.” The reality of busy lives means that I don’t always take time to pay attention to the people around me. I want to be more intentional about noticing and acknowledging the amazing things that my kids do every day and not just catching them when they are at their worst. I want to have enough margin in my life to really see and listen to my friends and family members, to be quick with a smile or a kind word or a practical way of helping. But I don’t really like the noun form of notice or the idea of “putting someone on notice.” No, this one was not the winner either.

Something about “savor” appealed to me. The truth is that I spent years preparing and praying and fighting for the life that I have now. And still my default is wanderlust . . . looking around, looking ahead to the next thing. I want to be more present here. Now. I want to bask in the beauty that is my family, my two miracle babies. I want to drink in every minute. But not every moment with these miracle babies is all sunshine and unicorns. There are a lot of hard parts in adoption too. Parts that no one would savor—parts that make me justifiably mad. In the wake of a few of those moments, savor felt lovely but a tad inauthentic. It would not work.

No. These were not my words. My word for 2018 is “create.” When I choose to live with less without forcing my preference on other people, I will create space for what matters to me. When I pay attention and catch my children being kind or take an extra minute to really listen, I will create connection. When all is well, I will create memories with my kids . . . of grand adventures and quiet evenings snuggled on the couch.

Yes, yes, all of this. And I will paint. Something about the messy imperfection of it helps loosen my need to control all the things. Not to mention that all kids love painting. So we will create art. And memories. And, yes, a royal mess. And I will cook. I’ve never loved cooking, but I’m coming into an appreciation of it as my daughter grows and begs to help out in the kitchen. Together we try out new recipes and as she dices, her heart spills out. And I lap up every moment of vulnerability. And we create beauty there, in our hearts and in the kitchen. And hopefully something good to eat too. And, of course, I will write. I will write because I must. Because my heart has stories to tell, stories that matter. Stories that resonate with someone that I know or someone out in cyberspace and in our own way, we create community. Stories that make the bad parts of life not so unbearable, stories that create healing. Stories that celebrate the everyday miracles, the amazingness of being alive, stories that create joy.

Create. Yes, that fits just right for me in 2018.

How about you?